The UK new car market recorded its 22nd consecutive month of growth in May, with fleets continuing to drive sales.

A headline 1.7% growth in registrations year-on-year included 14% growth in the fleet sector, and also 9.5% growth in business registrations, classed as those to firms with fewer than 25 vehicles.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), these more than made up for a 12.9% decline in private registrations.

In terms of fuel mix, plug-in hybrid registrations shot up by 31.5%, to take 8% of the overall market, while conventional hybrids were up by 9.6% for a 13.2% market share.

EV registrations were up by 6.2% year-on-year, accounting for 17.6% of the market, driven by a 10.7% increase in fleet registrations. However, the SMMT pointed out that this was still below the 22% called for this year by the UK Government’s ZEV mandate.

Petrol car registrations were down by 2.1%, taking 54.9% of the market, while diesels were down by 16.7% for a 6.2% market share.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “As Britain prepares for next month’s General Election, the new car market continues to hold steady as large fleets sustain growth, offsetting weakened private retail demand. 

“Consumers enjoy a plethora of new electric models and some very attractive offers, but manufacturers can’t sustain this scale of support on their own indefinitely. 

“Their success so far should be a signpost for the next government that a faster and fairer transition requires carrots, not just sticks.”